Thursday, June 28, 2007


If you can travel this summer, go to Münster. Go to Münster because you will see beautiful works there, installations in public space. Go to Münster because you will be really able to live the works that are there, the works from 1977, 1987, 1997, and 2007. You will walk through a town, and if you don’t have the little map with you which shows you which sculpture is where, you might just get confused and think that something is art – and doesn’t this border blurring between art and „art“ make everything more real? You can rent a bike and bike down to lake Aa, where you can meet the singing voice of Susan Philipzs under the bridge, where you can lie on the grass under the Antenna which Ilya Kabakov put up in 1997, and you can sit on the wood stairs of the Pier by Jorge Pardo (still 1997), staring at the water. You will see History of Art pass by, jumping from the past into the present, as Donald Judds sculpture, “untitled” (1977) coils itself on the grass, and where we suspect people will sit, and write their names (Hänsel loves Gretel… ) – traces of words and loves that may still be seen, scrubbed clean, but not invisible.

Under the Torminbrücke over the Lake Aa, listen to the sound installation by Susan Philipsz

Lie on the grass and read Ilya Kabakov's message against the sky

Donlad Judd's "untitled" from 1977 bears some traces of human cohabitation

If you buy one catalogue this year, buy the Sculpture Projects Münster catalogue. The only one in the collection (Venice Biennale, Documenta, and Sculpture Projects) that has artists writing about their work in it. The only one with an amazing glossary compiled by art historians, theorists and artists, defining, in a very different way, art terminology – a catalogue you will love to read.

From the Glossary (in brief):

Artworld - (…) On the one hand, Heidegger accords art the capacity to qualitatively inform an entire culture, while on the other making the art world responsible for why it cannot unfold this altering power and that works ultimately sink into the trivial, for in the art world they suffer “world-withdrawal and world-decay.” (…)
Wolfgang Ullrich – professor of art studies and media theory at the State Academy of Design in Karlsruhe
( Martin Heidegger, “Origin of the Work of Art”)

Collaboration – (…) The motivation behind today’s collaborations varies radically, almost in proportion to the number of different modes of working. A common explanation is the wish to practice generosity and sharing as an alternative to contemporary individualism and the traditional role of the romantic artist as a solitary genius. Self-determination in an ever more instrumentalized art world, both commercially and publicly, and a desire to be a more powerful force in society have also been mentioned as important motivations.(…)
Maria Lind – curator and critc

Desire – “Let yourself covet men’s culture, art, wisdom, honour,” postulated Friedrich Schleiermacher in 1798 as the tenth precept of his Idea for a Catechism of Reason for Noble Ladies. His enjoinment marks a manifold change of perspective on desire in the bourgeois era. (…)
Katharina Sykora – professor at the Braunschweig University of Art’s Institute of Art Studies

Migration – (…) Trans-border migration is not only constitutive for the nation and its borders; migration also creates new social spaces, relationships and family concepts, which normally are hardly ever noticed. Migration constantly contravenes national guidelines and border policies (…)
Marion von Osten – artist, author, and curator, professor at the Zürich School of Art and Design

If we say “do not judge the book by the cover” perhaps we can say “do not judge the exhibition by the catalogue” yet in this case, the amount of thought, care and knowledge that has been put into the Münster catalogue reflects the amount of thought, care, and knowledge put into the Sculpture Projects.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Wrong Art World!

I'm in the wrong art world!!! I'm in the art world where one still cleans ones own brushes, if one has the space to do ones own paintings in! I'm in the art world where one does ones own translations! I'm in the art world where parties involve some 15 people squashed in my little studio which is office to ArtSEEN and Büro Zürich in Florence, and where one has to negotiate the narrow floor space so as not to step on the drawing, but the parties are fun! Man, I am in the wrong art world!!!
It's a shocking realisation.... High heels are IN the RIGHT art world!
Plese copy, paste and read the article in link below - the work I missed in Venice, I have to go back to see it!
I'll wear my high heels, how's that!?
Seriously, the work is sublime... it's the Kosuth installation... with nice photos!!!

I'd like to dedicate this blog entry to my friend, Jason Mena, because I haven't had time to e-mail you --- get the heels out! ;)


Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another short break...

In Medias Res

The narrative for this e-mail will inevitably begin in the middle of things or 'in mezzo delle cose' because that is exactly where we are at. Of course there is always a beginning as well. We started our travels a few weeks ago in Venice and then ended up in Muenster via Kassel. There was so much to see and in some of the other blogs you can catch a glimpse of what we will be discussing in the upcoming summer edition of ArtSEEN Journal. But in any case the process continues, articles are written, art is SEEN, conversations occur, and time continues.

June has, thus, been a period of intense happenings and reflections. For me I suppose the artist life is bound to be somewhere in the middle. Today I was reading a text piece by Piero Manzoni. In it you can see the influence Lucio Fontana had on his early work, and I suppose I was slightly taken aback by Manzoni's vehemence but then again in the end he went on to describe just being. So there was passion and calm and just letting things go all in the same essay.

I prefer artists' words above all others

The artist gives us true insight into the way we perceive the world. Sometimes I like to mix and match my readings... As in I'll read artists' writings from different historic periods. Most discuss space and time and if they are not it is because during that period such themes were not at the forefront of the artistic debate and this was usually because ideas became too fixed and inflexible.

With all the Furies

Ask not why, but it is said so, at least in Italian, that when you're under pressure and working to catch up with a dead line, such as printing date (imagined or not - ha! I am the Editor after all!), that you are working “under all the Furies.”
Mythological Greek goddesses of vengeance and law-keeping, their heads blowing wild live snakes, fulminating any wrong-doer, I guess having them above your head is not a very pleasant experience… Well, we’re all working “under all the Furies” to bring our summer SEEN out before the Summer ends! Translating articles, pressuring our Editorial Consultants, and dreaming still about the lay-out (what will it be, about 100 pages??? I have to try out!), and still in dept with our printer, the ever generous and patient Alessandro… Yes, I hope to be there on the 2nd July, a week “late” from my proposed date of 25th June. And pay some of our dept. :)

We have been writing articles on all our trips: to Venice, to Kassel, to Münster… and I apologise, but we still haven’t written anything about the German shows for the blog – sorry, SEEN priority. What I will do though, is put up some of our photographs for you to see. In about a weeks time, if the furies forgive us, we’ll write more!

Map of Germany - tying to avoid traffic jams

Concentrating on David Riedels talk in Münster

Münster press office

Gordana and Sandra as shadows on the shores of the Aa lake

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Winner!!!

Stuart Urban receiving the Lancia Award in Bologna, June 10th

We are very pleased to announce that Stuart Urban is the winner of the top prize, the Lancia Award, at the Biografilm Festival, which has been awarded for his film "Tovarisch, I Am Not Dead" on June 10th, 2007.

ArtSEEN journal Team congratulates Stuart on this achievement!
Well done!
(for more info, please check out the web link for Tovarisch, and our April insert)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Heels to walk away

Walking through the Arsenale corridor to get to the press office, telling each other we will look at the work afterwards, but it's impossible not to give it at least a glance… Quickly realized: a lot of good choices and others that in my opinion were not exactly the best…You get your bag, nice green and magenta bag for press people, and it is only the beginning of a whole bag competition, it's all about bags at the end… but this is another story that will be told later. After a lunch (if you can call that sandwich a decent lunch) and already the first people you run into, we started visiting the Giardini, the private view - that was not very private or at least there were too many people in the private situation. This makes it less exclusive than the way they want it to appear… a lot of high heels that were too high to walk through the Giardini (don't take me wrong I took my heels too but they were the type of heels you can walk in) – a lot of smiles and "hi" echoing around us…

Inside the Italian pavilion after going through the crowd the central room had the most beautiful work by Sigmar Polke, suddenly it makes you hold your breath, huge paintings that danced with the structure, I kept walking around the room thinking how incredible it is when you feel you are able to breath painting, how incredible it is that you can allow yourself to be emotional about a painting and not always intellectual and conceptual, after all guys I'm an artist and those are the things I think and feel in front of a nice work.

I kept on visiting the rooms with no order, I usually go from the left side and keep the line but I didn't this time, in every entrance/exita neon sign EXIL caught my attention with that L at the end but I guess I decided not to think further about it, later in the train back home I learned it was an artwork by Abdel Adbessemed who also had a nice drawing at the Arsenale. Also went through a room were Murray's work was hung, no matter how nicely Storr has explained this choice and her work I still think it was a "non ci sta" choice ("has nothing to do") and is the same I have to say about the first artist you meet when entering the Arsenale, Luca Buvoli.

Beautiful drawn walls by Sol LeWitt who unfortunately died recently. These two drawings remind me of Gordana's piece of the moon drawing, same feeling, very strong work. Iran do Espirito Santo is one of my favourite artists in the list, amazing how he can transform space every one talks about the intervention on space but he really treats spaces purely, but this is another story and it will be told later on since it deserves longer attention. Openings for single pavilions include a speech that unfortunately no one listens to or at least a few people only, there is always a crowd ready to jump into the food/wine table and if you want to get a glass of wine you must get there 30 minutes before the opening and keep your place… this was done by a lot of people, not by us, we met at the Hungarian pavilion that was opening at 15:30 and decided we could have a glass of wine later and we could just go and visit other pavilions. That's when we got into the Australian pavilion, where the yellow bag was given, once you get it you get into the pavilion where we found very interesting work by Daniel von Strumer, very slow movements from a perspective that makes it a beatiful view. Out of it we run into people we have met and we decided to go to the Swiss pavilion where there was real champagne (you always think champagne is what you drink at Biennale's openings but it's not true, only Swiss people had champagne), the work doesn't deserve much of my thought or space in these lines so we enjoyed champagne and the encounter with an Iraqi artist that had a banner… he is also part of that story I will tell you guys later.

First night exhausted, the usual not Incredible food, Venice is nice as to look at it but it is one of the most exhausting cities in the world, every time I've been to a Biennale I've come back with my feet hurting and my mind full of information, I would need at least 2 weeks to settled it in my mind. The other two days were more or less the same, meetings, business cards… etc… I tried my best to see as much as I could, was very glad of some of the works like Christian Capurro magazine project, and the amazing paintings by Russian Dmitry Gutov and obviously our friend Alys was there and had a very nice drawing and video installation. Also loved to see again Oscar Munoz.

The Spanish guys Los Torreznos I thought were amazing , we need more sense of humour in art and enjoy ourselves either by making art or looking at it. This Biennale was very war referential and also reflects more on what's NOT happening in the art world than what's happening because maybe nothing really striking is happening.

And yes I have a lot more in my mind and I could write about it for hours but give me time to settled down information to clean off the air that has been put on top of art by all these heels and openings and money. I have only one thing for sure to say, I enjoyed the opening of theVenice Biennale but I prefer going anonymously maybe in another month and visiting it in calm, I would only want to be in my studio working now, Gordana told me that the best thing we could do after this is create and create but well we are now going to Dokumenta and we will also let you know how it goes, in the meantime these are just first impressions, thrown just like they came into my tired mind.


When trying to write about such a big event it is inevitable that everything starts to run together especially since everything is so fresh on my mind. But I'll do my best to give you an idea of some of the things that struck me as particularly worth while.

Sigmar Polke paintings - It was actually the first thing I saw. Well, actually not the first thing. We managed to see a big chunk of the arsenale because we were searching for our press passes and then it was off to lunch. So after lunch and a beer I went into the Italian Pavilion in the Giardini and had a look around. Right smack in the middle were these works by Polke. Dark works that were monumental and sublime in their darkness. They left me speachless and with a strong feeling in my stomach. But I couldn't hang around too long because the artSEEN team was supposed to meet shortly for drinks in front of Hungary. But it all turned out to be too crowded so we went on our way...

I heard Robert Storr speak in Florence about a month ago in a talk called 'Between the Factory and the Garden'. In the speach he spoke of the viewer and the event and about doing something with an event that was planned over one hundred years ago and about the difficulties of dealing with such a space for contemporary art which is never so easily put into such spaces. He was very clear about what he was going to present and what I saw seemed to jive with what he was saying in his talk. Lots of paintings beacause after all that's what he deals with on a regular basis both as a painter and a curator. I thought his choices were good ones and the Italian pavilion overall worked very well. My progression from Polke, to Ellsworth Kelly, to Gerhard Richter, and then to Robert Ryman made perfect and logical sense. Here was an idea and one worth exploring. One could easily say that such big names are a shoe in but I feel it is also an opportunity to see the greatness of an artist. After all painters especially tend to get really good late in life.

I passed saturday morning entirely at the Arsenale. I spent a good deal of time with the Francis Alys installation. I've written about his work in the past and I think he's really on to something. It has to do with really getting to the point. Many people attempt to deal with the political or the poetic and fail. Alys does not. At times it's difficult to say why he pulls it off but he does and for now I'll stick to just that... that he consistently deals with the poetic and the political on a level that his contemporaries could really learn from...

There was much more and of course by the end I was too tired to look at anything with fresh eyes. Which may have influenced my reaction to the pavilions this year as being very average. I didn't feel that it was bad but nothing that stopped me in my tracks. And I couldn't get over the sinking feeling that French art looks and feels really French and British art is really British and Germans very German and The Americans very American. It seemed a bit absurd and a gallerist at a certain point even started bashing Americans which was funny because she thought I was British or Italian or something and it gets me wondering about the tolerance of people in the Art World. Are we all just supporting our own?

Overall I'm happy I went. I like seeing what people are doing and I enjoy discovering that all the big people are not so big anyway. Just people sweating their brains out in Venice on a hot day. It's a great place to get rid of all the smoke and mirrors even if there were a lot of mirrors everywhere!

Venice - right in the middle of the Maddening Crowd

Morning coffee at the hotel - it tasted as it looks - suspicion was it was made with Laguna water because we could not conceive how otherwise it could taste so bad

Venice – oh my god.
Venice is a tourist play-town. I am not sure how many pigeons live in Venice, but I am sure there are more pigeons than Venetians around.
Venice is a romantic weekend destination, destined to leave your pockets turned about and around. In the end, you may well ask yourself "Why?" as you pay exorbitant prices for an un-appetising dinner, and chew on dry bready sandwiches that are costing you a small patrimony.
As the Biennale opened its doors to the many "few" privileged that received an invitation to the Private View – Venice pumped up its already over-muscular prices. Hotels were difficult to get by even a few months ago.

The Biennale is one event that makes visiting Venice a must, and I have no idea what to suggest to you, except go in your own boat. However, a smart move would be visiting the Biennale in October or the first weeks of November, just before it closes. In fact, I’m thinking of going back then too.

The Private View was not very private, as hundreds of artists, gallerists, curators, collectors, art-lovers, and press peoples mingled to look, to see, and be seen. Crowds crowded the pavilions as they inaugurated their exhibitions; crowds jammed the tables offering wine, snacks; crowds grabbed freebies – from fans to bags. We too joined in the queue for the Yellow Bag – Australian Pavilion, and we visited the Swiss pavilion for the champagne (Martin said the Swiss would have champagne, and they did.)
In some way, this perhaps was the freebie opening, as everyone was handing out something.

"Untitled" (Perfect Lovers) - Felix Gonzalez-Torres
US Pavilion, Giardini, 52nd Venice Biennale

The US Pavilion presented works by the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres, serene and beautiful, the light bulbs handing down from the ceiling, and the two round marble pools “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) at the entrance inviting to contemplation and, yes, why not, reflection – giving if possible an even more poetic approach to Narcissistic notions that linger deep down in each Very Important Human Being. Somehow, for me, those marble pools invite one to stop to re-consider the legend of Narcissus and the meaning of disappearance while observing ones own image. Conceived during the artists lifetime, the pools were made only recently and delivered for the exhibition in Venice – carrying with them the gentle touch of love.

Inside the pavilion, the artists works were offered to the viewers, not only to vision, but to take home as well. Beautiful large posters – one depicting water, the other a large version of the typical frame surrounding death announcement “Untitled” (Republican Years), were placed on the floor – ensuring a mad scramble as a hungry crowd grabbed at them – even though the labels on the wall assured that the number of the works was “unlimited”. Somehow it is sad that an intimacy with an artists work and with an artists process that goes on well after the artists passing, continuing to produce and to touch lives, can be overshadowed by the Maddening Crowds. Somehow, maybe only after the passage of maddening crowds can one stop to think how much effort it takes to bend down and pick up a pebble from a beach, a dry leaf from the floor of a forest, a poster from a pavilion floor, with care and elegance due to both the object being picked up, and to the person who is doing the picking up.

I could say the same of the multiple paper freebies – newspapers, maps, guides, invites to visit the pavilions that are not in the famous Giardini (Gardens) – picked up, thrown down a few meters after. Sometimes in rubbish bins, sometimes free floating in an already floating Venice. Even sandwich-munching VIP’s (for we shall consider everybody who was at the opening as a VIP) would leave their rubbish – serviettes, empty water bottles - lying around. Caught by the seeing eye of Martin, a few of the VIPs were reminded/reprimanded to accompany their leftovers to the bin just on the corner.

Three days are lamentably not enough to visit the whole Biennale, yet the days after are very important. That’s when the sand settles, and when the multiple artworks seen start either disappearing from mind or getting clear in the mind, as for each one of us who creates, the information received starts to resonate.
I need to go back and stand at the Giardini at dusk, or take a vaporetto (water boat) to the Lido at night, as I missed the installation by Joseph Kosuth, on the island of San Lazzaro, The Language of Equilibrium.

In the mean time, I must also write of all the other crazy things I’ve seen, if it is of any interest, as that certainly will get blown away by the wind, as cobwebs swept clean. Here, I am mainly talking about the shoes worn by some VIPs during the opening… Even with the most comfortable shoes on, visiting the Venice Biennale inevitably results in sore feet, and as I sat to rest my toesies, my eyes travelled over other peoples foot wear – high-heeled boots? Not my line! Platform sandals? How can you walk in those? It’s very interesting observing people at openings. Guaranteed that anybody who was not an artist was dressing as they thought artists dress. From tight gold pants to fuchsia pink robes blowing in the sea breeze. And feather hats. And torturous foot wear. Brrrrrrrrrr.

Sandra in the very nice relaxation zone at the Biennale Press Room

So far from me, that’s the tip of the iceberg on this years Venice Biennial. My head is still floating, and my compliments go to all the professional journalists who can sit down and write clearly about something, without taking in consideration what other people are wearing, and how they can walk in that… I’m just an artist, after all. And one who’s refusing to put on any shoes right now.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Art trips

We're off to see the Big Exhibitions - Venice Biennale, Documenta Kassel, and the Münster Sculpture Project!!!

We'll try to send you postcards, via the blog! We'll keep our eyes open for those Hidden moments!

A presto!

Friday, June 1, 2007

Drawing Conclusions '07 Conclusion

The Jury, composed of ArtSEEN journal Editorial Team, and the External Jury member, Denis Isaia, is pleased to announce and publish the Winner, and Co-Winners of Drawing Conclusions ’07.
The selection of works here presented shows the variety of approaches to drawing that are being produced world wide: from the more traditional approach of ink or charcoal or pencil on paper, to drawing used for and as basis of installations.
We are pleased with the range of works that have reached our final selection, reaching to the wide horizons of drawing possibilities.
The emerging artists whose works we present below have all had exhibitions in their own countries, as well as internationally.

We wish to thank all the artists who have sent work in for Drawing Conclusions, and wish you all luck with your work! Many of you were a “personal” favourite to one or the other of the Jury, yet is was the accumulation of all the votes hat determined the winners.

The Winning Drawing Project:

Lalie Schewadron _Hybrids Exhibition view:
Emulsion on wall with ophthalmic and
environmental animation
Site specific installation ("Hybrids", Lounge Gallery)

Lalie Schewadron is an artist who lives and works in Boston and Lausanne, Switzerland. Her work ‘Hybrids’ is a site specific installation recently exhibited at the Lounge gallery in London from the 19th of April to the 6th of May 2007. The work is composed of emulsion on wall with ophthalmic and environmental animation and is 290x700cm.

She states that the installation is ‘intended to create an extraordinary landscape of ‘hybrid’ realities through digitally manipulating complex medical photographs and photographs from nature to create new images, entitles with a ‘life’ of their own.’ And continues by stating, ‘the drawing was created by building up layers of wall drawing and projection of the moving image, thus, exploring the notion of ‘hybridism’ through the intersection between the different media.’

The idea of such a mixture is consequently a means by which the viewer is invited into questioning the very nature of reality, perception, fiction, and chance.

Co-Winners (Runners -up in alphabetical order)

Rikka Ayasaki _Rain in a big city 90x60cm ink, black & white 04/2006

Rikka Ayasaki is a Japanese born artist, based in Paris, France. She has been practicing the SUMI - E : ink on paper technique for the past 17 years of her life, successfully bringing the ancient Japanese technique into a contemporary world.
Her drawing „Rain in a big city“ captures in whole the atmosphere of a rain storm, the weight of the clouds, and feasibly, one can smell the perfume of wet ground. Of her work Rikka says „ Expressing the world in black and white, essentially, I make interesting experiences. I just painted, for examples, roses. Somebody tells me - " These are RED roses, aren't they? " -
or - " This VIOLET color is superb! " -

Yes, my roses are GREY.
But the people who look at my paintings always find the RIGHT COLORS in their minds...”

Aleks Bartosik _Installation drawing and performance. Willow chalk on walls. Art Gallery of Mississauga
(ON, Canada), September 2006.

Aleks Bartosik is an artist who works in Canada. Her approach to drawing allows the integration of other mediums in her work, creating a multi-disciplinary platform, where drawing can and does become an integral part of a performance, or, in another instance, the use of boxes that become a site-specific space for drawings.
She states that her work centers on the female form, where the artist plays the protagonist who is placed in various process-based narratives. Within the narratives, Aleks' characters embody a play between anthropomorphic and zoomorphic transformations.

Brian Bishop _Untitled (Undone), Charcoal on Paper 60" x 60", 8/2006

Brian Bishop is an artist and assistant professor of Art at the University of Alabama in
Tuscaloosa. He describes his principle interest of his studio practice as, ‘the exploration of the fine line between the forgotten or overlooked moment and the fetishized memory as simultaneously seen through the filters of portraiture in the west, snapshot photography and the contemporary cultural phenomenon of constant surveillance. Inevitably it also addresses memory, as it is known through photography, and questions if these moments represent truth or fiction.’

In the work ‘undone’ Bishop presents the viewer with an activity that is by all means ‘mundane’. However, the success of the image rides on the fact that the banality of the activity is also simultaneously evocative of other less clear situations, which ultimately invite us to consider other more fantastical narratives.

Karina Pérez Aragón -Melody, Black and coloured pencils on paper. 20cm x 20cm. 2007

Karina Pérez Aragón is an Argentine artist, currently working in New York, USA, after having been based in Salzburg, Austria for several years. Of her work she states: “Emphasizing simplicity, I direct my attention to the universal. My work is based on pre-verbal images. Through reduction I feel able to come closer to the essential."
Her drawing “Melody” shows the expression of this thought on paper, a seemingly simple yet harmonious use of lines which interact with the space around them, the “emptiness” of the paper, to create an illusion of space and depth. Geometry is a visual language tool that she uses to transmit a sense of safety and natural order, as she says: “The whole universe and our own constitution are built on geometrical structures.” Through abstraction, she seeks to render the formless and infinite space.
It is by joining the eternal opposites: empty – full, that this effect is made possible.